- ISIS fighters have kidnapped 230 people in the town of Qaryatain in Syria.
- Captives are Christians and Muslims, including 45 women and 19 children.
- Fears ISIS will sell them into sexual slavery or carry out mass executions.
- Qaryatain seized this week after suicide bombers hit army checkpoints.
Islamic State militants have kidnapped 230 men, women and children in Syria sparking fears they are destined for sexual slavery or mass execution.
Jihadis seized the heavily populated town of Qaryatain – around 50 miles from the city of Homs – earlier this week after suicide bombers targeted army checkpoints at the entrance.
Around 230 Christians and Muslims, including 45 women and 19 children, have been kidnapped and hundreds others are missing, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The capture of the town in central Syria is the terror group’s most significant advance since seizing the ancient city of Palmyra in May.
Following intense overnight fighting, the Assad loyalists were overwhelmed – allowing the terrorists to take full control of Qaryatain and prompting them to release a series of gloating images of militants posing with captured tanks on affiliated Facebook pages.
This morning, Rami Abdurrahman, founder and director of the human rights observatory, told MailOnline that 230 people had been held captive.
A separate report claimed about 150 Assyrian Christians were among those taken.
Diana Yaqco, a spokesman for A Demand for Action, a global initiative seeking protection for for Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriacs and other ethnoreligious minorities in the Middle East – said sources had confirmed that about 300 families had managed to flee the area but about 150 people had been kidnapped.
She told MailOnline: ‘The main concern is sexual slavery, mass executions and beheadings.’
ISIS is known for its brutal treatment of captives, including executing those who refuse who refuse to convert to Islam and using women as sex slaves.
In a statement, the Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese of Homs, Hama and Environs, the Christian church based in Homs, wrote: ‘ISIS has attacked Alqaritin (sic) village and took control over it after killing some members in the Syrian Arab Army.
‘ISIS also took captive all families and began negotiations to free some of them. About 200 Christian families were released and still 100 families are still held captive in the houses of the terrorist groups.
‘We received the displaced families in our archdiocese headquarter and gave them the basic and essential needs because they went out of their houses without taking anything with them, neither clothes nor properties; so we are working on providing them clothing, housing and medication.’
Many Christians had sought refuge in Qaryatain after fleeing from the Aleppo province, in northern Syria.
The capture of Qaryatain allows ISIS to link up areas under its control in and around Palmyra with areas in the eastern countryside of Qalamoun in Damascus province.
Qaryatain had a pre-war population of 18,000, including Sunni Muslims and around 2,000 Syriac Catholics and Orthodox Christians.
According to a Syrian Christian who lives in Damascus but is originally from Qaryatain, the town’s Christian population has dropped to only 300.
In May, masked men abducted Syrian priest Jacques Mourad from the Syriac Catholic Mar Elian monastery in Qaryatain.
Mourad, who was known to help both Christians and Muslims, was preparing aid for an influx of refugees from Palmyra.